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Getting to grips with ISO 45001

13 April 2018

Frank Angear, general manager for the British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF), provides an insight into ISO 45001, the new international standard for Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) management

ISO 45001 replaces OHSAS 18001, which was originally launched in 1999 and was designed to align the range of national safety and health management standards into a single one, providing a common and universal management system.

The aim of ISO 45001 is the same, but it follows the current common terminology and structure set out in the new Annex SL. This is the single major difference between the new and old standards. With an increased focus on improving OH&S performance and processes, ISO 45001 will bring OH&S management and continual improvement into the core of an organisation and allow it to align its OH&S management system with its strategic direction.

Easier integration with other ISO standards

This new standard is applicable to any type of organisation, large or small, in any industry and any location. Its use of the new ISO Annex SL structure means that it can be easily integrated with other management systems such as ISO 9001 (Quality Management) and ISO 14001 (Environmental Management), and a number of other employee wellness programmes. It provides an opportunity to comply with a global requirement and set benchmarks against health and safety policies and practices which can be integrated as organisations trade across different geographical areas. 

Top management involvement

ISO 45001 requires organisations to also look beyond their own safety and health requirements and consider what external requirements and risks might exist as a result of their operations. There is also a much stronger focus on the role and buy-in of top management combined with a greater employee contribution. ISO 45001 expects OH&S aspects to be integrated into the structure of an organisation. Under OHSAS 18001 responsibilities sit with the health and safety manager, but with ISO 45001 OH&S responsibilities need to be integrated into everyday business operations, have wider accountability, and will no longer be the sole responsibility of the health & safety manager.


To summarise, ISO 45001 is designed to provide easier integration with other ISO standards, while top management involvement will lead to greater commitment and shared health & safety responsibility throughout the organisation. By managing risks in an organised manner, organisations will reduce hazards and risks. Organisations will however need to adopt a strategic approach to health and safety management. With the introduction of “Context of the Organisation” organisations will understand the internal and external drivers, providing clarity on objectives and strategic plans. Finally, the process of managing outsourcing, contractors and procurement arrangements will be made more explicit, leading to reduced risks and greater efficiency.